Difficulties in filling the stadiums: “We must reduce the investment required of the supporter”

The cross : To attract the general public, clubs have relied in recent years on digital and social networks. Has it become an essential vector?

Boris Helleu: With social networks, where clubs previously met the public once every fortnight, during matches, contact can now be made daily, with backstage, storytelling, direct exchanges with fans. For some sports organizations, which are also brands in their own right, there is the possibility of reaching a wider audience than the local or national public.

The supporter has become digital, therefore international. Aware of this issue, the clubs have relied heavily on the recruitment of dedicated teams and community managers (responsible for the animation of social networks, editor’s note), the first relays of the club’s image. A phenomenon that has continued to grow since 2010. The role of a community manager has become essential. It offers fans a new way to follow a competition or a match, through multi-screens, real-time chat, etc. A social network like Twitter is particularly suitable for sharing reactions on the spot, it is suitable for the instantaneous dimension of sporting events.

Isn’t the risk to become a supporter present only through the screens and therefore to abandon the sports arenas?

BH: The use of social networks does not prevent, in my opinion, from always being a faithful supporter present at the stadium. We’ve all gotten used to multitasking. From the stadium, you can contribute to the excitement on social networks by posting a selfie supporting your team. That’s what a lot of supporters do.

The ability to complete or not complete stages actually depends on several factors. There is the cultural argument, which consists in saying that France is not a country of sport. Not like England, for example, where the love for a club is passed down from generation to generation. There is also the quality of the offer. Today, the French championships of popular sports are less attractive in terms of quality of play. In football, for example, the English Premier League, the Spanish La Liga, the Italian Serie A and even the German Bundesliga always rank above .

How can we compete with our European neighbors and improve stadium occupancy rates?

BH: We must first reduce the investment required of the supporter to get to the stadium. It is estimated, for example, that a sporting event that lasts 90 minutes actually requires four hours for the supporter, between journeys, installation, etc. If you don’t have a level bar or an organized sense of showmanship within the enclosure, you’re not attracting. We must rethink, no doubt, access to the stadium and the relocation of the speakers on the edge of town. A stadium like that of Lyon is a good example: with convenient access and in the city center, the occupancy rate is one of the highest in France.

Today, you have a 75% fill rate with a relevant audience. The remaining 25% are people who wonder what the weather is like before going to the stadium, who the opponent is, if the price is not too high. These represent families. We can also point to the culture of the “show”, which is not very present in France. Initiatives must be thought out to attract the supporter to a real spectacle, beyond a simple sporting event.



Rugby: an open investigation into the management of the 2023 World Cup organizing committee

The National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF) indicated on Wednesday, November 9, that a preliminary investigation had been opened in early October into the management of the public interest group (GIP) France-2023, responsible for organizing the Rugby World Cup. , confirming information from the Team. A search was underway on Wednesday morning at the headquarters of GIP France-2023, the organizing committee also indicated. The PNF confirmed carrying out searches at various locations.

The investigation was opened for favouritism, influence peddling, corruption and any other related offence, following a report from the General Inspectorate of Finance and the General Inspectorate of Education, Sport and the research. The investigations were entrusted to the Paris Research Section.


According to the team, “the criminal investigation is interested in these possible personal expenses borne by the GIP 2023, in certain past contracts and also in alleged irregularities linked to the ticketing of the 2023 World Cup”. At the end of June, the sports daily had published a long survey relating the malaise at work due to “management by terror” of the former managing director Claude Atcher.

Immediately afterwards, the Minister of Sports Amélie Oudéa-Castéra had requested referral to the Labor Inspectorate as well as to the ethics committee of the GIP, in which the French Rugby Federation (FFR) has a majority (more than 60%) and the minority state.

“Alarming managerial practices”

The submission of the report of the ethics committee this summer, mentioned “alarming managerial practices”. This had led the Ministry of Sports in early September, in concert with the FFR and the French Olympic Committee, which also sits on the GIP, to lay off Claude Atcher as a precautionary measure pending the investigation by the Labor Inspectorate. . He was finally removed from his position as general manager of the organizing committee on October 11, less than a year before the start of the competition.

In addition, a joint mission of the General Inspectorate of Finance and the General Inspectorate of Higher Education and Research has been working since this summer on ” possible breaches of economic and financial probity or conflicts of interest” within the GIP. According to the Ministry of Sports, “the report was made by the two inspections on the base” of their interim report. Both services continue to work.



Rugby: the Blues still on the path to success

There are only four minutes left in a meeting that the Blues watch escape, badly in their legs and clumsy against Australians much more dashing than expected. Will they be the executioners of the XV of France again, these men from the antipodes who are the last to have defeated them in July 2021? The score on the Stade de France scoreboard is 29-25 in favor of the visitors.

So the stands launch into a Marseillaise out of the blue, summoning the energy of despair. And the Blues suddenly find the opening. A model jump pass from Matthieu Jalibert, a swaying dance from tightrope walker Damian Penaud, erasing with a sharp hook and a din slicing two opponents to flatten the winning try, and here are the Blues victorious on the wire ( 30-29). Moment of grace.

A group that adapts and reacts

This XV of France thus achieves an eleventh consecutive success, and beats an old record dating back to the 1930s, when the Blues of yesteryear, a time excluded from the Six Nations Tournament, had managed a series of ten against “small” teams. such as Italy and Germany. Suffice to say that today dominating all the nations encountered since the summer of 2021 is a performance of another scope.

Coach Fabien Galthié talks about ” pride “. Captain Antoine Dupont rather evokes the following: “It just makes us want to do more in the coming months. » The Blues inevitably turn their gaze towards this World Cup which is looming at home from September 8 to October 28, 2023. The final campaign which must lead to the Holy Grail has begun, and Fabien Galthié does not fail to mention the importance of garner as much confidence as possible before the deadline.

The short result against Australia is to be read in this light. Yes, the Blues proved to be borrowed for more than twenty minutes at the start of each period: fragile conquest, game launches at half mast, meager inspiration at the foot. It’s a lot. But they finally prevailed.

And the coach to praise his group’s ability to adapt and react. “The victory validates the choices we have made since the beginning of this mandatehe analyzed after the meeting. Both the choices of method, consistency, but also the choices on the players selected. »

The XV of France strategist underlines the youth of his troops, not so much on their age, which is slowly increasing (26.5 years on average for the group against the Wallabies), but on their common past in the jersey (23 selections on average only). “When I look at the others, I see that we are often, if not always, the team that has a collective experience below the best. So we are on a path…”

Bite everything from here to the Mondial

Everything is certainly not definitively stalled with these Blues who do not yet have comprehensive insurance. But the certainties are piling up, and it is not for nothing that Fabien Galthié evokes a XV “premium”, with ever more clearly identified executives. Hence the tenure of the pillar Cyril Baille or the opener Romain Ntamack, even if the two players are coming back from injuries and still seem to lack rhythm. The return of former captain Charles Ollivon, also elected man of the match, also contributes to this quest for consistency.

Even if the margin of progress is still real, the Blues in any case want to let go of nothing on the road to the World Cup. “It’s important to arrive at the World Cup thinking that we can beat everyoneinsisted Gaël Fickou, the most capped of the Blues (72 selections), at the dawn of this autumn tour. Without lacking in humility, our goal is to remain undefeated and take first place in the world rankings. » The XV of France is still second behind Ireland, and closely followed by South Africa.

And it is precisely the South Africans who are looming on November 12 in Marseille, before Japan on the 20th in Toulouse. If the Blues are up to their ambitions, it is another historic record that they can go for: that of the most consecutive victories (18) at international level, which New Zealand co-holds (between August 2015 and October 2016) and England (between October 2015 and March 2017). For that, it would be necessary to devour this autumn tour and another grand slam in the Six Nations Tournament in the spring of 2023. Then will come the World Cup which it would be a question of finally winning…



Rugby World Cup: the Blue beaten on the wire

A place in the final, for the first time in the history of French women’s rugby: until the last minute, the Bleues could believe it against the New Zealanders, who were playing at home, at Eden Park in Auckland . Until this final penalty awarded for a dangerous tackle. But opener Caroline Drouin, visibly exhausted, completely missed her long kick. Their opponents only had to manage the last seconds, before a clearance in touch synonymous with victory on the wire. The “Black Fern”reigning world champions, will meet England in the final next Saturday, victorious over Canada (26-19), which Les Bleues will face for the bronze medal.

Cruel disappointment for these Bleues who glimpsed the final. The French, for the eighth time in the semi-finals of a World Cup, have again failed at the gates of the final, against a team that they had nevertheless just beaten four times in a row. Their defeat by one point is reminiscent of that of their male colleagues in 2011, during the World Cup final, again against the All Blacks. On TF1, coach Thomas Darracq did not hide his disappointment: “We had a big match, the girls did what was expected of them (…). We took risks… The kicking game cost us dearly tonight. We have the penalty for winning, it’s very frustrating because tonight the place was really there. These are games that are played for nothing. It’s sad for this team. To pass so close, it’s hard, it’s very hard “.

Les Bleues, who scored three tries (as many as their opponents of the day) notably had a very good first period. In the second half, they were reduced to 14 following the exclusion of Safi N’Diaye who, at the end of the meeting, made a point of apologizing to her teammates: “With the experience I have, I must not take (it). We were close to the feat and we lost again in the semi-finals. We will have to digest, and of course we will give everything for this third place. We had this dream of going to the final, we didn’t go far but we will get up very quickly… ”

Five-time world champions, the “Black Ferns” will face the English next Saturday. They will have a hard time facing the first nation in the world and the big favorite of the competition.



2022 World Cup: women’s rugby in search of a development model

The Blues of 1991 had embarked a little on the spur of the moment, at the last moment, in a first Women’s World Cup in Wales that even the International Rugby Board – the governing body of the world rugby (now World Rugby) – did not recognize then. The outfits weren’t quite complete, nor was the technical coaching, and it wasn’t any better on the opponents’ side. The Americans, future winners of the tournament, had thus multiplied the odd jobs to pay for the trip.

“It was another time, another world”, smiles Annick Hayraud, then scrum half of this XV of pioneers. The now manager of the France team, who is starting the ninth edition of this Women’s Rugby World Cup this Saturday, October 8 against South Africa, can measure the progress made. “It took several years for the rugby family to recognize us, and many more to have the real means of performanceshe points out. We can consider that things evolve too slowly, but changing mentalities always takes a long time. »

Ignition delay

In a very virile discipline, the steps are necessarily high, and the valiant ovalies have long watched the cousins ​​of football, or those of handball and basketball, enriching their Olympic records. They only obtained the status of high-level sportswomen at the turn of the century and had to wait for the 2014 World Cup, organized in France, to attract the curiosity of the general public, then 2018 for the fifteen players to land their first professional federal contracts. . Poor relation of tricolor collective sport, women’s rugby?

At the level of the national selection, the delay is catching up. But, more broadly, the discipline is still waiting for its big night. In 2016, the structuring of the women’s sector is indeed included in the program of Bernard Laporte, candidate for the presidency of the FFR. After his election, however, it is the showcase of the France team which is privileged, the rest being jostled by other priorities, including the men’s XV.

“We may have been a little late in the ignition, but I came into 2020 with a mission to put the overdrive”, assures Brigitte Jugla. The former player of the 1990s, for two years vice-president of the FFR in charge of the women’s sector, is thus working on the move upmarket of a championship which is always looking for the right formula.

An ever-floating championship

A time reduced to eight clubs, then increased to 16 in 2018, upset by the Covid and again limited to 14 last year, it is set at 12 teams for the next season, which will be launched after the World Cup. “We must imperatively harmonize the clubs to avoid differences in level between themsays Brigitte Jugla. This is the condition for having an attractive product, which we can then present to distributors and future partners. »

To find this balance, the manager is betting on new specifications, drawn up with the clubs, to be tested next season before becoming compulsory in 2023-2024. It defines a number of constraints in terms of technical, medical, training, “in order to best support the players in their practice but also in their socio-professional development”, says Brigitte Jugla. Who, in the momentum, works on the development “a strategic development plan for the women’s sector by 2033”. A revolution ? At least visibility “a roadmap to finally target budgets and define areas for resolution”.

Knowing where to go, the clubs ask for nothing better. Because, for now, it’s still often every man for himself. A track emerges all the same: to rely on a professional men’s club. Seven of the twelve clubs in the Elite championship are now playing a more or less advanced rapprochement (in Bordeaux, Clermont-Ferrand, Grenoble, Lyon, Montpellier, Pau, Toulouse).

ASM Romagnat, champion of France in 2021, has thus established a partnership since 2016 with ASM Clermont Auvergne which gives it access to certain equipment for male professionals. “We remain independent, but this pooling is interestingcomments its president Marie Magignot. No doubt the future will involve more intense collaboration, because structuring oneself within the framework of the new specifications without money being put on the table will be complicated. »

Financial resources still limited

Co-founder in 2003 of the women’s section of AC Bobigby 93, the only club in the Ile-de-France in the elite, Marc-Henri Kugler does not say anything else. “We hold on thanks to our huge pool of players in our territory, and the support, in particular, of local communities. But there is no economy of women’s rugby yet. We are certainly getting closer to other high-level sports, but with a real-false amateurism, by helping the girls with accommodation, with match bonuses, by finding them odd jobs. And on this level, difficult to put all the clubs on the same starting line. »

Money, sinews of war, of course. AC Bobigny evokes a budget of 220,000 €, AS Romagnat between 400,000 and 500,000 €. In Blagnac, a finalist team in the last French championship won by Stade Toulouse, coach Nicolas Tranier speaks of 200,000 to 250,000 € dedicated to girls but included in the budget of Blagnac rugby, the men’s club playing in National (equivalent to the 3e division).

“Tomorrow, the clubs will probably not be able to professionalize 30 players, and that’s what makes all the difference with handball or basketball, but it will be necessary to contract some of them and probably also the coaching”believes the technician whose team is the one that provides the most Blue, with nine players present at the World Cup in New Zealand.

“In the meantime, everyone cooksregrets Marie Magignot. The Federation wants to put everything flat, but no doubt it will take time, and the current system is not really fair, when clubs like Blagnac, Bordeaux or Toulouse benefit from many players contracted with the Bleues while we we only have one. »

Moving forward together is the difficulty of a women’s rugby full of desires but still on the wire. “To pursue individualistic logics too much, we risk destroying more than buildingwarns Brigitte Jugla. I want to get everyone around the table so as not to miss the boat. Our rugby schools are full, and in June 2022 we had nearly 43,000 licensees, compared to 26,000 at the start of 2021. We are really on the right track. » Even if no one sees the end of the road yet.


A 12-nation Women’s World Cup

Since 1991, the Women’s World Cup has hosted 12 nations. But this 9e New Zealand edition is the last in this format. From 2025, the competition will host 16 selections.

The teams are divided into three pools. Pool A: Australia, Scotland, New Zealand, Wales. Group B: Canada, United States, Italy, Japan. Group C: South Africa, England, France, Fiji. The first two from each group and the two best third are qualified for the quarter-finals.

The Blue program: France-South Africa (October 8 at 3:15 a.m.), England-France (October 15 at 9 a.m.), France-Fiji (October 22 at 8:15 a.m.). The matches will be broadcast on TF1.



Women’s Rugby World Cup: the France team, blur in the window

Take the trophy home. The objective set for Les Bleues for this ninth Women’s Rugby World Cup in New Zealand has been hammered home by the management of the French Rugby Federation for four years. The podium, the France team knows very well. In the eight previous editions, Les Bleues have finished on the third step six times. It’s time to fill the sails to turn a corner and finally climb to the top.

“We have put the means, so we want to believe in it. When you’re not ambitious… breathes Brigitte Jugla, the vice-president of the FFR, who follows the Blue in Auckland. The means are the federal contracts which professionalize the internationals, allowing them to devote themselves 100% to oval leather.

The girls of rugby 7 were the first to benefit from it in order to prepare for the integration of their discipline into the Olympic program in Rio in 2016. The effort paid off. Not immediately in Brazil (6e), but in Tokyo, where Les Bleues won silver, before bronze at the World Cup on September 11.

The era of professional contracts

The fifteen players benefit from the same regime from 2018, which is gradually gaining momentum. First supported 75% by the FFR and 25% by the clubs, their salaries are now 100% financed by the federation for those who play the Six Nations Tournament or the World Cup. Today, 55 Bleues have a professional contract. The entire XV squad in New Zealand is covered by the system.

Did the results follow? With ups and downs in the Six Nations Tournament, where since the 2018 Grand Slam, the Blues are still chasing first place. But this is not the only measure available. The confrontations with New Zealand, world title holder, mark the progress: three victories, in 2018, 2019 and the last, with style, in November 2021 (38-13). What, in any case, whet the appetites for the 2022 Six Nations Tournament.

A recomposition in extremis

Except that. The Blues, if they settle without forcing most of the matches against the other adversaries, smash once again on the English wall, revealing real shortcomings in the conquest and a worrying impotence. At the end of a tournament still finished in second place, the atmosphere is not good. “The postponement of the World Cup from 2021 to 2022 because of the pandemic really disrupted things, and the group fell apart,” recalls Annick Hayraud, the manager of the Blue.

Who was a bit shaken by the changes in the framework decided on the fly by the federal leaders last May. Annick Hayraud loses her double role as coach in favor of Thomas Darracq, until then sports manager of the Bleues. Two technicians, in post since 2017 and 2019, are also replaced, less than five months from the World Cup.

“We had to adapt to the push of a new generation of players, justifies Brigitte Jugla. And Thomas Darracq, who saw these young people rise when he worked with the under-20s, was in the best position to successfully integrate them. We had no choice, a bit like with the boys when Fabien Galthié arrived to reinforce the men’s XV of France just before the last World Cup. »

“We just have to play rugby”

Does the recomposition promise sparks? Les Bleues arrived in New Zealand with two small preparation matches in the legs against Italy, the last of which was sanctioned by a defeat with the worst effect (19-26). Worrying? “We can no longer doubt, we just have to play rugby”, has just released the captain of the Blue, Gaëlle Hermet.

The French team will be able to calibrate themselves from the group stage where they will find their pet peeves, these English women who today seem to dominate the debates head and shoulders with a powerful rugby of formidable efficiency. Les Bleues, faithful to their game of movement, hope this time around the obstacle. The moment of truth is near.



In team sports, the mental coach still has to find his place

The Blues in silver during their recent Euro and the Blue in the quarter-finals of the World Cup, Thursday, September 29 in Australia? If the French teams are rather good in their basketball, it may have something to do with it: before the Tokyo Games, Richard Ouvrard had accompanied the coaches of the two national basketball teams, who had completed their fortnight silver (men) and bronze (women).

Since then, the “mental coach” has started working with the players, still in its infancy but already paying off. “A global psychosocial approach, with very rich interpersonal processes, because I have relationships with everyone: the national technical director of the French federation, the technical and medical management of the teams, the groups of playershe explains. It is a systemic work that we must continue until the meeting of Paris 2024. “

Trainer Sensitivity

Richard Ouvrard is not his first experience with tricolor collectives. He muscled the mind of the Blue handball before the Rio Games and until the triumph of those in Tokyo. A more obvious success than his fifteen months of collaboration with the Bleues du football for the 2019 World Cup, without a future for lack of osmosis between the expert and the coach Corinne Deacon. And this is the limit of the intervention of a mental trainer within a collective: “It still really depends on the sensitivity of the coach. It is often he who is convinced or not of the interest of integrating a specialist or not, “ underlines Christian Penigaud, former European champion of beach volleyball (in 1993) then federal technician converted into mental coaching, called for three years alongside the French women’s volleyball team.

Do the 2024 Games in Paris push the federations to better arm themselves? “The awareness of France’s delay in this area is real, but acquiring this tool is not yet systematictestifies Laurent Chambertin, 350 selections with the Blues of volleyball between 1986 and 2001, today mental coach integrated into the high performance cell of Insep. There are still resistances: to call on an expert is to recognize a weakness. So no: it’s just wanting to improve performance. »

This difficulty, Christian Penigaud observes in the training he delivers to coaches within his federation: “There is still a lot of misunderstanding about our work, and when coaches experience a collaboration, they often tell me either it went wrong or they didn’t know what was really going on. the mental trainer. » The place of the expert within the collective is in fact a key issue. “Integrating a community with its rites and its language is not easy and you have to work upstreamsays Richard Ouvrard. Because the main thing is to be able to regulate information and emotions to make human relations more fluid. »

The performance-personality tandem

What is at stake is not always obvious, to the point that the concept of “invisible training” is sometimes evoked. “I try to work concretely on things that can be seen and measuredloose Christian Penigaud, rather reserved. It’s about improving performance, something quantifiable. » Laurent Chambertin insists on the performance-personality tandem, “without splitting the two, and insisting on sustainability so that the athletes take ownership of the work and are autonomous behind it, to promote the turnover of the workforce, for example”. However, the intervention of the mental trainer should not necessarily be too long, “to avoid habituation and a guru phenomenon”, warns the specialist.

The field is vast, and no doubt 2024 is not the ultimate deadline. “We can also talk about heritage in this areaconcludes Laurent Chambertin. Train our young people by giving them time to understand and acquire good practices, and give them a head start for Los Angeles 2028.”



Rugby World Cup 2023: general manager Claude Atcher laid off

The 2023 World Cup is pitching: its general manager Claude Atcher was laid off on Monday August 29, just over a year before the start of the competition, “as a precaution” and ” with immediate effect “ due “alarming managerial practices”. The World Cup, scheduled in France from September 8 to October 28 and which is to begin with a clash between the Blues and the All Blacks, will it take place with or without Claude Atcher?

At the end of June, an investigation by the Labor Inspectorate was launched after an article in the sports daily The Team detailing a “deep social malaise” within the France-2023 Public Interest Group, the institution in charge of organizing the World Cup led by Claude Atcher.

“Alarming managerial practices”

In question, according to a report by the GIP ethics committee, “alarming managerial practices altering the functioning of the structure” and of “the state of suffering of a certain number of collaborators”. The Ministry of Sports has therefore decided to lay off Claude Atcher “as a precaution with immediate effect, for the time necessary to close the investigation currently being carried out by the labor inspectorate”.

The sexagenarian “will no longer be present or active, directly or indirectly, within, in the name and on behalf of the GIP throughout the period of the conservatory layoff”, says the press release from the Ministry of Sports. He will be temporarily replaced in his functions by the deputy director general of the GIP, Julien Collette. This decision was taken in concert with the French Rugby Federation and the French Olympic Committee, the two other shareholders of the organizing committee of the Mondial-2023.

A second open investigation and trial

World Rugby, the governing body of world rugby, told AFP that it “fully approved the conclusions and the action plan communicated by the French Ministry of Sports today on the subject of the social climate within the France-2023 organizing committee”.

In addition, the ministry statement adds, a second investigation has been opened: “A joint mission of the General Inspectorate of Finance and the General Inspectorate of Education, Sport and Research was initiated by the State to, on the one hand, analyze the existence of possible shortcomings to economic and financial probity or conflicts of interest and, on the other hand, to support the GIP in the organization of some of its strategic programs”.

The former third line will also be judged from September 7 with the president of the FFR Bernard Laporte and the boss of the Montpellier club Mohed Altrad in the context of suspicions of favoritism around the sponsorship of the XV of France. He will appear for “concealment of breach of trust”, ” misuse of corporate assets “ and of “concealed work by concealment of activity”. Just over a year from kick-off, the 2023 World Cup is faltering.



France, the world’s leading nation in rugby and a safe bet in other team sports

According to the ranking established by World Rugby, France becomes the first team in the world at the start of the week. Fabien Galthié’s men, undefeated this season with ten straight wins, will now overtake South Africa, previous world number one, beaten by Wales on the wire this weekend (13-12).

“For the first time in its history, the XV of France reached first place in the world rankings”, tweeted the president of the French Rugby Federation, Bernard Laporte, on Saturday.

If the world champion Springboks had won, they would have remained at the top of the world rankings. Their defeat, combined with the second victory of the Blues in Japan and a setback for the All Blacks against Ireland (23-12), allows the French to get ahead of them.

World champion footballers but… 4are FIFA ranking

Before the XV of France, only the men’s football team had managed, in 2001, to win the world’s first place in its discipline. Without being at the top of the table, the rest of the national team sports teams still have a good track record.

At the 2021 Olympics, France was ranked second in the team sports rankings, behind the United States, with six medals, including three gold. The men’s volleyball team had notably won its first Olympic title against Russia. Today the training led by Andrea Giani is ranked fourth in the world. His female counterpart, on the other hand, is in more trouble, clocking in at 24e global place.

As for the French basketball players, the men’s team, Olympic vice-champion last year, climbed to fourth place, far behind the untouchable Americans, also ahead of the Spaniards and the Australians. The girls, Olympic bronze medalists and reigning five-time European vice-champion, are sixth in a ranking again dominated by Americans and Spaniards.

In football, France may be the reigning world champion, but it only points to fourth place in the ranking established by the International Federation (FIFA), behind Brazil, Belgium and Argentina. The girls, who are currently competing in the Euro, are doing a little better. They are third, overtaken by the United States and Sweden.

In handball, the men’s and women’s teams both won a gold medal at the last Tokyo Olympics. The boys are third at European level, behind Germany and Spain. The girls do better: second, only ahead of the Hungarians.



Rugby: Montpellier to conquer its first title of champion of France

A “remake”, but not a revenge. Since the start of this week which has led them, Friday June 24, to the final of the French rugby championship against Castres, at the Stade de France, the Montpellier residents have been spreading the message. To convince themselves of this, the people of Hérault have a few arguments. Of their workforce, only a handful were from the lost final, in 2018, against these same Castres, in the scenario of the season.

Dominating the season four years ago, Montpellier Hérault Rugby already seemed to hold the Top 14 cup with one hand, finally snatched by a Castres Olympique tumbling into the final after finishing the exercise in sixth position. This year, the roles have been rebalanced: the turn of Castres to approach the last step in the costume of leader, against Montpellier certainly second in the championship, but who come back from afar.

Bad reputation

The defeat in the 2018 final had left traces and a disappointment commensurate with the means deployed to achieve it. In 2011, a few weeks before its first Top 14 final, the club was bought by French billionaire Mohed Altrad. A team of new rich then set up, without “Being consistent in high performance for ten, eleven years”, acknowledged current coach Philippe Saint-André at a press conference last week. For these galactics from Montpellier, the failure of 2018 is then experienced as ” a trauma “, does he slip The cross. Consequence: in the winter of 2021, the club is on the verge of relegation. As if to remind the institution “to its young history”, and the players “to humility”, considers Philippe Saint-André, to whom then returns the sign of providential man.

That year, the former winger of the XV of France (69 selections in the 1990s) will get away with a tenth place and even a trophy at the European Challenge, the “small” European cup of the oval ball. Six years after his time as coach of the France team, concluded by elimination in the quarter-finals of the 2015 World Cup against the All Blacks, and a decade after his departure from Toulon, Saint-André had taken advantage of his good understanding with Mohed Altrad to find a coaching bench. The two men have known each other since the failed takeover attempt by the entrepreneur of the English club Gloucester, in the early 2000s, when the former player had begun his conversion. “In addition to his financial contribution, Mohed also gives a lot of his person, he is involved in the project which aims to give back space to the training center”, supports Philippe Saint-André.

A referee in the staff

If the group seems more solid in the game this season, certain weaknesses still surface. Like their setback in the European Cup against Leinster last January, the heaviest ever suffered by a tricolor club in the competition. To continue his recovery, the manager was able to count on a “very complementary staff”.

In addition to his two assistants Jean-Baptiste Élissalde and Olivier Azam, recently extended, like him, until 2025, the technician notably surrounded himself with the former referee Alexandre Ruiz. A reinforcement that is part of the new trend of clubs to attach the services of ex-whistle attendants. All the more effective as the Montpellier owed in part their defeat in 2018 to their too many faults, offering penalties to Castres who did not ask for so much.

“The MHR was a very penalized team, this is no longer the case. You also enter into the psychology of the referee. It helps the players to know what level of aggression to put, to better manage these interventions, ” explained this week to The Team former Hérault player Benjamin Fall, in the losing side four years ago.

But if the emotional parameter can finish making Montpellier look like the favorite, Friday evening, on the occasion of the last match of his career for Guilhem Guirado, Philippe Saint-André applies for his part to “be careful” so that victory, synonymous with the first shield of Brennus, like defeat, does not start again “the stability of the club” : We are creating a different story. So yes, recruitment is less flamboyant, but we take second division guys, who come for the sports project, people who are already good people. »


Tensions in the organizing committee of the Rugby World Cup

A survey published Wednesday, June 22 by The Team shed light on the deleterious climate reigning within the organizing committee of the next Rugby World Cup, which will take place in France at the start of the 2023 school year. The Ministry of Sports immediately contacted the labor inspectorate on the basis of“worrying factors” reported by the committee’s 70 employees. About fifteen members suffer, according to their testimony to the sports daily, a “management by terror”. “At the moment, at least six of them are off work, most of them for overwork, anxiety and depression…”, adds the newspaper, while” around twenty “ have already left their post.